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The Lord Jesus Christ in you and you in Him – God’s Mysteries in the Holy Scripture Bible – Wisdom of God in a mystery

The Lord Jesus Christ in you and you in Him

  • [1 Cor 2:7,8] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
     
  • [Eph 3:3,4] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
     
  • [Rom 16:25] Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
     
  • [Col 4:3] Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
     
  • [Eph 5:32] This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
     
  • [Col 1:26,27] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

While the New Testament speaks of several different mysteries, there is one that stands out in greatness of importance.  It is revealed to us by the apostle Paul, and  contains the details of God’s grand redemptive plan . I say the details of the plan, because redemption in general is a theme that pervades the whole Bible.

So what exactly was the mystery? That God would send a Messiah to save His people Israel was not a mystery. Neither was it a mystery that Gentiles would be saved . For example, [Isa 42:6] ‘I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;’ . It was even revealed that the Messiah would be a suffering servant in Isaiah 53.   What was the great mystery?

What was hidden in the secret counsels of the Almighty was this: that an entirely new creation, made up of a diverse assortment of people including both Jews and Gentiles, possessing incredible spiritual riches (Eph 3:8), would come into existence

This new creation is described as being in a living, organic union with the resurrected and glorified Lord Jesus Christ. It is called ‘the Body of Christ’, or the ‘Bride of Christ’, or ‘the Church’.  It is not an organization, but an organism. The Lord Jesus is the head of this unique organism: [Eph 5:23b] ‘Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body’. [1 Cor 12:27] ‘Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.’  

The rules for joining organizations are pretty well defined, but how does one join an organism?

The New Testament says that members enter the Body by a supernatural operation — by being baptized or immersed into it by the Holy Spirit. (The Greek ‘baptizo‘ means to immerse.) [Gal 3:27] ‘For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.’

This baptism into Christ is not a ceremony involving water (though that should follow), but a work of the Holy Spirit at the instant one is regenerated by faith in the Lord Jesus.  It is a supernatural uniting of the believer with the glorified Christ and His body. It is the work of God from start to finish, but accompanied by faith on our part.  [1 Cor 12:13] ‘For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.’

This placing of the believer into the Body results in what the apostle Paul meant by the phrase ‘in Christ’. Someone has counted over 150 times in his epistles where he used that terminology to describe the exalted position belonging to Christians.  We are wholly identified with the Lord Jesus.  It is a glorious event in the life of a believer when it sinks into his heart and mind what it means to be ‘in Christ’!  For me personally, it was a life-transforming experience.

The other facet of the great mystery of redemption is this: the Lord Jesus Christ takes up permanent residence in the Christian the moment that he trusts the Savior.  [Col 1:27] ‘To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:’  Isn’t that an awesome assertion?  The Lord God Almighty, Creator of the heaven and the earth, the great, eternal I AM, indwells each believer!  [Rom 8:9] ‘But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his

The union is complete: Christ in the believer, and the believer in Christ. Someone has given a crude analogy that, while imperfect, might help illustrate.  Consider a bottle in the ocean — the ocean water is in the bottle, and the bottle is in the ocean. The Lord Jesus alluded to this mutual indwelling just before He was crucified. He said: [John 15:4-5] ‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing’.

Note that to realize the full value of this union, we must ‘abide’ in the Lord.  ‘Abide’ means to dwell or remain; we are to always be in conscious union with the Lord Jesus.

I referred above to the Church as a new creation.  Actually, in the mystery there are two new creations: the individual believer and the Church.

  • The believer is born spiritually and becomes a new creation when he is baptized into Christ [2 Cor 5:17] ‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’. (The King James version says ‘new creature’, but ‘new creation’ is more accurate.)
     
  • The mystical Body of Christ was created at Pentecost [Acts 2:1-4a] ‘And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost…’. 

Any reference to ‘church’ in the Old Testament economy, as in Acts 7:38, implies an assembly of people, not the body of Christ. The word ‘church’ can also refer to an assembly in the NT, as in Paul’s letters to the churches, but the new creation is the ‘Church’ with a capital ‘C’; the Body of Christ and the espoused Bride of Christ: [2 Cor 11:2b] ‘I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ’.

This Body includes all regenerated Christians from Pentecost to the event described in [1 Th 4:16-17] ‘For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord’. The coming of the Groom for His espoused Bride! The greatest marriage ceremony in the history of the universe!

That is the mystery hidden from past ages — an entirely new organism with the Living Lord Jesus as the head, composed of diverse members each indwelt by the Spirit of Christ.

The key to this incredible work of redemption — the event  that opened the windows of Heaven and enabled the outpouring of God’s grace upon the human race — is the cross

  • [Rom 16:25] Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
     
  • [Eph 3:3-5] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote before in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
     
  • [Eph 3:8-10] Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

In my study of Paul’s writings, I noticed the frequent use of the term ‘mystery’.  Now, at least in Paul’s usage, a hidden truth about God’s plan is called a ‘mystery’ not because it cannot be known today, but because it was kept by God as a secret in past ages, before it was supernaturally revealed by God through the apostles at the start of the church age. In fact ‘musterion’, the Greek word translated ’mystery’, actually means ’secret’.  God kept these wonderful truths secret until this age of grace.

While Eph 3:3-5 states that the secret was revealed to other apostles and prophets also, it would be hard to argue that Paul was not the principal agent through which the important truths were revealed.   As stated in the verses cited above, the mystery was made known to Paul by revelation.  It was not made known to the sons of men in other ages.  It concerns the Church and God’s great eternal plan of redemption. 

Probing a little deeper into Eph 3:8-10 as cited above, we see that the revelation of the secret is a demonstration to the ‘powers and principalities’ — angelic powers — of God’s ‘manifold wisdom’. The Greek word for ’manifold’ means ‘much variegated’ or ‘multifarious’. What is that?  What kind of wisdom is demonstrated to the angels by the Church?  Peter said that angels are intrigued by it: [1 Pet 1:12] ‘…the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.’

One dictionary defines variegated this way: ‘Diversified in colors or external appearance‘.   It defines multifarious as ’Having great multiplicity; having great diversity or variety’.   You can draw your own conclusion about what that says about God’s wisdom, but to me it means it has many facets, like a cut diamond, or many aspects that one could explore.  I believe that it will take all eternity to discover the extent of all the wonders encompassed in what God has accomplished in the Church through Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That’s why Paul speaks of  ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’ in verse 8.

The unfortunate fact is that while the great secret has been revealed by Paul, many facets are not widely known by Christians.  The truth about justification through the Lord’s death and resurrection is fairly well known, but others, such as the believer’s position in and identification with the ascended Lord Jesus are not. The late Miles Stanford had a correspondence ministry with thousands of Christians over a period of half a century. Based on that experience, he stated that only about 5 percent know their position in Christ.

You might be thinking, ‘So what? Why should I be concerned with doctrinal issues like that? They just cause divisions.  I just want to love Jesus!’.  Well, it was important to Paul. In the midst of the highly doctrinal first part of his Ephesian letter, he prayed that [Eph 1:18,19] ‘The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe’To the Colossian believers he said, [Col 1:9,10] ‘…we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God’.

Ephesians and Colossians, along with part of Romans, are the richest mines of positional and identification truths in the Bible. In those contexts the apostle earnestly prayed for God to open the understanding of the believers to know themAnd note the results of a full understanding of Paul‘s doctrine:

  • Walking worthy of the Lord,
  • Pleasing God, and
  • Fruitful lives. 

H A Ironside points out the practical value of assimilating Paul’s doctrine of the mystery.  In his commentary on Ephesians 3, he says this:

The extent to which we accept these precious truths for ourselves, will determine our practical sanctification.  The Christian who truly understands his unity with Christ, and therefore with all who are in Christ, cannot be sectarian in heart or practice, but must embrace all believers in his fellowship and interest.

To profess to believe the truth is one thing.  To be governed by this belief in quite another.  So intimate is the link that binds all believers to each other and to our glorified Head in Heaven that everything I say or do as a Christian has an effect for good or ill on all my fellow members, just as every part of the human body affects every other part. This amazing truth should make us very careful in our walk and our attitude toward one another.

If we realize that we are members one of another (Rom 12:5), one practical result should be a concern for the suffering members of the Body.  Christians should make an effort to be informed about the suffering Church. The mainstream media will not tell you. 

One good source of information on the persecuted Church is the Open Doors ministry cited on the Links page. Another is Paul Marshall’s work, ‘Their Blood Cries Out’.  On the back cover of that book is the astounding assertion that ‘200,000,000 Christians throughout the world live in daily fear of secret police, vigilantes, or state repression and discrimination’. That’s two hundred million! It goes on to say, ‘These are not wild rumors. Nor are these simply Christians who, like so many others, suffer from war or tyranny.  Hundreds of millions of Christians are suffering simply because of what they believe’.   The Word of God says, [Heb 13:3] ‘Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body’. We should keep them in our prayers.

 

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